(1) Where are you from?
Born in Brampton and raised in Woodstock, Ontario Canada. I have made B.C home for the past 5 years and have no plans to live anywhere else, there are so many great places to live/check out in B.C.
(2) What day did you start?
May 5th 2018. Myself and the 3 friends I started with began our hike around noon on a hot sunny day with no idea the enormity of the journey ahead of us.
(3) What day did you finish?
October 6th 2018. Myself and 2 of the friends I started with, as well as a new friend we met a few days before reached the northern terminus around 2pm on a cold sunny day.
(4) Do you have a trail name?
Yes, my Trail Name is/was Double D.
5) If so, where did it come from?
My first name is Drew, and when I began the trail my group consisted of myself and 3 girls. I had a 4L Platypus gravity fed water filter setup and was always offering all the girls water, and they quickly began calling me “Daddy Drew”. I didn’t really enjoy the ring of that, but it kinda stuck and evolved into other versions such as “Dirty Drew”, “Dick Drew”, “Dank Drew” and probably a few others I’m forgetting. So yeah, it’s versatile and has multiple meanings, Double D!
(6) What did you dream of when things weren’t going well?
I believe the thoughts we choose to distract ourselves with are largely impacted by our surroundings. Dealing with the heat of the desert I often reflected on the past 1.5 years I had spent in Whistler, B.C and dreamt of shredding gnar pow on my snowboard. Thoughts of snowboarding and bike riding really got me through a lot of tough days, thinking about fun things you enjoy doing OTHER than hiking while you’re having a tough day can be a great escape. When things got cold and wet in Washington, as a Canadian the thought of just making it home was a huge motivator. I often dreamt of my family, delicious food, and just being warm and no longer at the will of the elements. We had a lot of cold, rainy and snowy days during our last month on trail, and the thought of being warm and dry with family was constant for me.
(7) Did you experience anything miraculous?
I’d say the day I met you Mr. Tuttle was certainly a great example of a miraculous day on the PCT. 15 or so hikers all left from Stehekin around the same time that day with plans to reach Rainy Pass or go a bit further and begin the mad dash to the border. When I reached Rainy Pass, it was FUCKING COLD but I was delighted to see all of my friends that had left earlier that day were enjoying some of the most high level trail magic we had ever seen. The guy providing it had a generator running, a giant pot of chilli and hotdogs cooking, a Keurig machine making coffee and hot chocolate for everyone, and tons of snacks. Truly incredible stuff for the cold hiker nearing the end of their journey, long after you think all trail magic is over. And to top it all off, you were there being super nice to us and offering to take portraits of hikers with potential to be in a magazine or an article. We felt like superstars that day man, it was miraculous.
(8) Any memorable encounters with the elements, or wildlife?
We experienced some pretty extreme wind many times on the trail, so strong that it broke 2 sets of my tent poles! Once resulting in them needing to be replaced (thankfully via warranty, shoutout MEC) and luckily the second time they broke I was able to use the repair sleeve and fix them. The first time they broke we were in Lower Crabtree Meadow at the base of Mt. Whitney at the end of June and the mosquitoes were terrible... Even with a bug net and being fully covered by your clothes/sleeping bag they can still bite you and my partner and I spent 2 miserable nights getting eaten alive while cowboy camping. 2 nights of that was all it took before I improvised a way to temporarily fix the tent poles and got us back into our tent, where we could escape the bugs and regain our sanity until we received a new set.
(9) Think back to your “pre-hike self.” Now think of yourself here at the end. Has anything changed?
Many things have changed from who I was “pre-hike”. I don’t know if I’ll ever really be able to articulate to others how much of a life changing journey this can be, but for those who have experienced it I think we all live in this “pre PCT/post PCT” universe. Most peoples problems seem pretty minuscule after forcing yourself to walk 20-30 miles a day for months on end through body pains and at the will of mother nature. The door that we’ve now opened for seeing what our bodies are capable of, and knowing what you can overcome mentally is also a slightly overwhelming and powerful gift from the trail. I always told myself along the journey “If I can get through this, I can do ANYTHING”. I really do believe that, and will carry it with me forever.
(10) Now that you are off the trail, what do you miss most about it?
I miss all of it. I miss waking up SUPER early with my partner and making coffee, then tearing down camp with our headlamps on and hiking out in the dark because we loved the stillness and tranquility of the early morning. I miss all the awesome hikers I met who were just so genuinely themselves, and the kinship of being hikertrash and sharing a common goal. I really miss the constant movement, the simplicity of just walking north and the ever changing scenery. I miss everything about it.
(11) Before you started, what were you most afraid of?
Before I started I was most afraid of embracing the entire “hikertrash” lifestyle. I had never hitched before this trip, I’m not very good at asking others for help and I’m equally as bad at accepting their generosity. I also enjoy making a plan or having a routine and sticking to it, which rarely works out on the PCT. Hitch hiking is a great practice in humility, and standing on the side of the road with your thumb out really helps you ditch whatever plans you’ve been making and just have high hopes in your fellow humans. Between experiencing that and accepting all of the kindness and trail magic that came my way, I learned to love people more than ever and to stop over-thinking stupid things and just be present.
(12) Now that you are finished, what are you most afraid of?
Now that I’m finished, I’m most afraid of never feeling the same sense of belonging or community that I felt on trail. And the freedom, the true freedom that we feel being out there for so long is going to be hard to find in day to day life, I’m a bit afraid that I’ll always be chasing that dragon.
(13) What’s the difference between life on the trail and life off the trail?
Life on trail is REAL life, life off trail is just time to prepare yourself to get back to real life. Make a plan, save some money and get on with the next adventure!